What Is a Best In Beauty Award?

The bags and boxes of beauty products had been coming in fast and furious, and now every shelf, every bin, every surface of the beauty closet (size-wise, imagine Beyonce’s boudoir, not your sleepaway camp cubbies) was filled. The office’s messenger service was exhausted from schlepping all the packages to our desks, and the beauty team was as clean, coiffed and covered in cosmetics as three people could possibly be: We were in the throes of beauty awards testing.

Each magazine, website, and blog that hands out beauty awards has its own take and criteria to enter. When I worked at Redbook magazine, for example, the winners had to make the reader’s life easier in some way; at Star magazine, every winning product had to have a celebrity fan; and at Shape, the recipients had to fit into an active lifestyle. Some media give awards only to products launched within the prior year while others include classic and iconic products. Occasionally you’ll come across readers’ choice awards, but by and large, the winners are chosen by the editorial team, often along with a panel of industry experts.

There’s a good reason beauty brands are so eager to tout the awards they’ve won: It’s hard to win one. The sheer number of products vying for every spot is astounding. We’d create massive binders for every category: skincare, body products, hair, makeup, and finishing touches (like nail polish and beauty gadgets). Within each binder was a different tab for each subcategory (cleanser, day cream, acne treatment, anti-aging serum, etc) and the press releases for products that had been sent for consideration. The beauty department would meet in the closet and go through the binders page by page, chiming in about which products we’d already tried and had an opinion on, as well as lots (and lots) of products we hadn’t yet tried. And every night, we’d each go home lugging our homework: a huge bag of products to play with before the next workday. Every shower meant a new scalp scrub, shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, body scrub, body wash, razor, and body lotion to try. Before we’d go to bed we’d try a new self-tanner, face scrub, face mask, face wash, anti-aging serum, night cream, eye cream, and toothpaste. And don’t think you could leave the house before applying a full face of new makeup, from primer to setting spray. Sometimes my sensitive skin just couldn’t take it!

Some winners were immediately apparent, like the lip oil we all fell in love with or the fragrance that made us feel like we were on vacation. But some categories were hard to agree upon. Our most intense scrutiny was directed at the skincare category. Because not only did a product have to feel and smell wonderful, but it also needed to be scientifically sound with proven active ingredients. Beauty editors have an extensive knowledge of skincare ingredients, but in this category, we’d always call upon our dermatologist colleagues to weigh in, as well (see my post about dermatologist recommended skin care). So when a skincare product wins a beauty award, like the ones granted to DefenAge? You can bet that it’s been vetted—and venerated—by the pros.

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